When it comes to encouraging people to give to charity and not panhandlers, Business Improvement District Executive Director Tim Walsworth estimates the message has reached thousands of people based on donations.
In 13 months, the BID’s Make it Count campaign has raised about $1,200, mostly in change, for Manna soup kitchen.
“It’s 95 percent pennies, dimes and quarters,” he said.
If each person gave about 50 cents, then the message reached about 2,400 people, Walsworth said.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot, Magpies Newsstand Cafe and the Durango Welcome Center are some of the hot spots for donations, he said.
Originally planned to be seasonal, the 40 Make it Count donation boxes are part of a year-round campaign.
In addition to the ongoing campaign, the BID’s downtown ambassadors will be back on Main Avenue for the holiday shopping season. They will be offering help on the street for the next two weekends and the days leading up to Christmas. The downtown ambassadors are meant to help offset the negative image some business owners and managers feel panhandlers create.
Panhandling typically drops off in the winter months, but Walsworth estimates about 10 people are regularly asking for help downtown this winter. He has started keeping track to help quantify the problem.
“We expected it to die down to next to nothing, but with the warmer weather, that’s not the case,” Walsworth said.
Downtown businesses interested in getting a Make it Count donation box can contact Walsworth at firstname.lastname@example.org.